Mollie Hemingway recently discussed Trump vs. The Media at Hillsdale College’s Kirby Center and traced the long sequence of events that have led the American public to lose faith in the media as stewards of “the truth”:
“Facts can be manipulated. Truth is much more difficult to obtain. It might be factual that Obama’s intelligence team briefed President-elect Trump about the Russian dossier, for instance, but whether that fact is used to spin a Russian conspiracy hoax is where truthfulness is important.
It reminds me of the John Peter Zenger trial of 1735. You probably learned about this in elementary school. Successfully argued by Andrew Hamilton, the trial was an important symbolic event in the development of American freedom of expression.
Remembered chiefly for Hamilton’s now famous plea that truth should be admitted as a defense. That was permitted in the English system, but [Hamilton] successfully got the jury to decide in [Zenger’s] favor on that point. The trial was, as David Paul Nord has written, a disputation on truth and how truth is revealed to man. The press in America have been accorded a variety of perks and privileges based on the belief that seeking and speaking truth are necessary aspects of liberty and on the assumptions that the press is integral to the success of civil society and that they would exercise their power responsibly.
However, Trump’s victory has advanced the developing realization among many Americans that the media has completely abdicated their responsibility and shown hostile to the values and ideas that many Americans hold. Much of the population no longer believes that media should be treated deferentially and given the power to shape much less control public opinion.”
Watch the full address here.